WELCOME...

to Bishop David's blog. Here you can find news, information, articles and pictures about the Church of England Diocese in Europe. We have over 300 congregations or worship centres serving Anglican and (mostly) English-speaking people in Europe, Morocco, Turkey, Russia and some central Asian countries.


For official diocesan information please click the diocesan logo on the right.



Sunday, 23 April 2017

Prayers in solidarity with Armenian Christians today

Divine Liturgy at St Yeghiche Church
It has been 102 years since the start of the Armenian deportations and genocide. Today I was invited by His Grace Bishop Hovakim Manukian, the Primate of the Armenian Churches of the UK, to assist at the Divine Liturgy in St Yeghiche Church in London, and to take part in the prayers commemorating the estimated 1.5 million Armenians who were killed during the period 1915 to 1923.

The solidarity of Christians in this solemn commemoration is vitally important. As Bishop Hovakim said in his homily today, we should never be indifferent to those who suffer violence and endure hate and death at the hands of others.


His Grace also pointed out that this week a film debuts in cinemas, called "The Promise". It is set during the last days of the Ottoman Empire. It is essentially a love story involving an Armenian medical student but set in the midst of these historic and cruel  events. The main character prays "Dear Lord, Help us survive these cruel times so we may once again sing your praises." It might be worth putting on your list of films to view.

PHOTO: GRACE HILL MEDIA


Thursday, 20 April 2017

Welcoming, active, inclusive .... and youthful. St Thomas Becket Hamburg


The Church of England parish in Hamburg has existed since 1612. However, St Thomas Becket Church is far from being an "old" community nor even a particularly ethnic English one today. It is, as its website proclaims, "a welcoming, active, inclusive Church". The electoral roll includes folk from many national backgrounds.

Indeed the international make-up is at the heart of its leadership. The Chaplain, the Revd Canon Dr Leslie Nathaniel, is originally from India. His wife (who assists at St Thomas's when she is not at St Catherine's Stuttgart), the Revd Dr Julie Lippe-Nathaniel, is German. Many on the servers guild are from Ghana. The excellent choir and other musicians come from around the world and make the liturgy at St Thomas's rich with music.

Discussing details of the liturgy before the service

One of the exciting and growing dimensions of ministry in St Thomas's is the inclusion of children and young people. Already an integral part of church life through a flourishing Junior Church, it is clear to me that ministry by and with young people is on the cusp of taking off in an encouraging way.

On Easter Eve, at the Great Vigil, 15 persons were confirmed, among them 9 younger candidates. As part of their preparation for the sacrament Fr Leslie invited the young class to prepare theological questions to quiz the older candidates. The youth put forward about 70 questions all together. Fr Leslie had to select about a dozen only, so as not to completely overwhelm the adults! (I am glad the Chaplain did not ask the young confirmands to ask questions of the bishop!)


From amongst the junior confirmands it is anticipated that a youth group will form. Also on the parish's plans is the development of a youth choir.

The Revds Julie Lippe-Nathaniel and Leslie Nathaniel

 

Saturday, 15 April 2017

Christ is risen, alleluia

To followers of Eurobishop I wish a joyful Easter, filled with the love of Christ and with the hope to which we are called.

 

Friday, 14 April 2017

The Veneration of the Cross in Hamburg

The Solemn Liturgy of Good Friday has many words: the substantial lessons and of course the proclamation of the entire Passion story from the Gospel of St John, plus a sermon. But It is also a liturgy of movement which dates back to the 4th century when pilgrims flocked to Jerusalem on Good Friday to venerate the precious relic of the True Cross, discovered by the Empress St Helena. About the 7th century the practice of devotions before a wooden cross was introduced into local churches for the benefit of the vast majority of Christians who cannot journey to Jerusalem.

Of course Christians come to the cross, to kneel before it, touch it, even kiss it, not to venerate a piece of wood but to give honour and praise to Christ who died on the cross. For many, coming into contact with the hard wood is a reminder of the reality of what he has done, for us and for our salvation.

So with Christians around the world and across the ages, on this Good Friday in St Thomas Becket Church Hamburg, from the very young to the not so young, the faithful came forward to venerate the cross, each in his or her own way, according to their devotional instinct. It was a dignified, loving, unhurried and prayerful procession of God's people, sustained by the choir and congregational singing of 5 of our best known passiontide hymns.

O Tree of beauty, tree most fair,

Ordained those holy limbs to bear:

Gone is thy shame, each crimsoned bough

Proclaims the King of Glory now.

 

 

Mandatum novum

Mandatum novum - a new commandment. From this phrase from the Gospel of St John, the Thursday before Easter, Maundy Thursday, takes its name. The new commandment of our Lord was, of course, to love one another, as he loves us.
In St Thomas a Becket Church Hamburg, following the solemn liturgy of the Lord's Supper and Washing of Feet, some members of the parish, including some of the adult candidates who will be confirmed at the Easter Vigil joined the Revd Canon Dr Leslie Nathaniel, the Chaplain and me for a simple meal, and some rich conversation. The mood of the sacred rites we had just celebrated seemed to be still among us and we reflected on the meaning of love, and what it means to say that God is love. We spoke about what that signifies for those who are not Christian, or who never will be, in terms of God's gracious embrace of them. We reflected on how we address this central teaching in our dialogue with this of other religions. We spoke of the wonder of our salvation, through the Eternal Word, born among us, living as one of us, dying on the cross and rising again, to bring us home to the Father.
This is a congregation which clearly likes to talk theology!
Post Maundy Liturgy meal and discussion

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Chrism mass in the city of St Ambrose


The Archdeacon of Italy and Malta, the Venerable Vickie Sims, hosted a Chrism Mass in her parish of All Saints, Milan on Tuesday. Clergy and Readers from Italy, Denmark and Spain gathered for the annual service at which the oils used for baptism, anointing the sick and confirmation are blessed, and the diaconal and priestly vows of ordination are reaffirmed, along with the promises made by licensed lay ministers, or Readers.

The celebration was enhanced by the presence of Archbishop Sir David Moxon, the Director of the Anglican Centre in Rome, who was able, along with me, to reaffirm his vows as a bishop in Christ's Holy Catholic Church. Archbishop Moxon retires from the Anglican Centre in Rome later this year. We were able to pay tribute for the way has has opened so many doors in Anglican-Roman Catholic relations during his time as Director, and for the warmth of our present A-RC relations, which is due in no small part to his remarkable ecumenical ministry. His Associate Director, the Revd Marcus Walker, was accompanied him to Milan for the mass.

Fr Giovanni, 2nd from right
An added joy during the service was the formal reception of the Revd Giovanni La Rosa into the communion of the Church of England. I will be writing more about Fr Giovanni's remarkable ministry later.

As always in our scattered diocese, it is with a real sense of fellowship that clergy and lay ministers gather on occasions such as this, and it does offer me a chance, as bishop, to thank them for their dedicated service. Archdeacon Vickie was an excellent host, and she and volunteers from the parish provided a warm reception and lunch for the guests who had come from near and far for the service.


Sunday, 9 April 2017

Prayers for Coptic Christians in Egypt



As the news of another terrorist attack on the Christian community in Egypt emerges, on behalf of the people of this diocese, I have sent the message below to my dear friend Bishop Angaelos, the General Bishop of the Coptic Church in the UK, and the Moderator of Churches Together in Britain and Ireland.

_____________________________________________

Your Grace Bishop Angaelos, my dear Brother in Christ
I can hardly believe the news that has just reached me, that on this most Holy Day when the Christian faithful begin our commemoration of the passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ, a passion and death which was for the reconciliation and peace of humankind, the Coptic community attending the sacred liturgies in Alexandria and Tanta have been victims of a bloody terrorist attack. I understand that at least 36 have been killed and many more are seriously injured.
I assure you of my closeness in prayer to you and to your Church at this most sad and troubled time. With other Anglicans in this Diocese in Europe, we pray for those who have died in this attack, that Christ our God will grant them rest with his saints, where there is no pain or grief, but life everlasting. We pray for all who are injured and for those who mourn, for the strength and comfort of the Holy Spirit in their lives.  May the Holy Angels keep your people in Egypt safe from further violence.  As we have carried our branches of palm we carry in our hearts the lament of your people, who are our brothers and sisters in Christ, trusting in our Lord, who is victorious over sin and death. 
Now the authorities in Egypt must act swiftly to bring the perpetrators of this crime to justice, and to protect with ever more vigilance, the Christian minority. 
And may God turn the hearts of those who seek to do violence to their neighbour.
With sincere condolence and fraternal love
+David

_____________________________________________

This prayer comes from the Coptic liturgy:
Disperse the fantasies of the adversaries. Still the tempest. Walk with us and calm our terror. Quench our thirst, kindle the flame of thy love in our hearts. Abide with us, for the day is far spent, and accompany us until daybreak. For thou are our goal and our happiness, Thou alone, O Lord, for ever + Amen.
HG Bishop Angaelos

Saturday, 8 April 2017

Holy Ghost Genoa - International and outgoing, like this ancient maritime city


There has been an Anglican Church in Genova (Genoa) since at least 1818. The first services were held in the home of the British Consul. The present building, dedicated to the Holy Ghost, dates from 1873 and is an architectural gem. It was designed by the famous British architect George Edmund Street who also designed the Law Courts in the Strand, London. The Romanesque style draws from typical architecture from this Ligurian region of Italy.


The city of Genoa has a long maritime history. Christopher Columbus is perhaps the most famous son of the city. Today it is still the second busiest port in Italy. True to this heritage the congregation of Holy Ghost Church is very international and outgoing. At last Sunday's Eucharist I met parishioners who hailed originally from England, Italy, Ghana, Chile, Japan, Switzerland, and Nigeria.


The congregation is also growing in faith and modestly in numbers. Eight persons were confirmed last Sunday. A splendid community lunch was held in the church after the mass, providing a time for members and visitors share a convivial meal.


For many years the Church of the Holy Ghost Genoa has been served by a rota of very dedicated locum priests. With the future development and growth of the Church in mind, the Archdeacon and I are now in conversation with the parish leadership about a possible resident priest. But I must pay tribute to the locum clergy and to the energetic lay leaders who have nurtured the congregation to the point where I believe there is a very bright future ahead.





The Prayers of the Diocese are with Stockholm at this time

Church of St Peter and St Sigfrid, Stockholm
Sadly, once again terror has struck in the heart of one of our European cities, this time Stockholm. I have been in touch with the Chaplain of St Peter and St Sigfrid's Church, the Revd Nick Howe, to ensure that our immediate community members are safe, which they are, thankfully. On Friday afternoon I also wrote to the (Church of Sweden) Bishop of Stockholm, the Rt Revd Eva Brunne, and to Fr Nick to convey a message on behalf of our diocesan family. The message is below.

To:          The Bishop of Stockholm
                The Chaplain of St Peter and St Sigfrid Anglican Church
Dear Bishop Eva
Dear Nick

I have just heard the news of what appears to have been a deadly terrorist incident in Stockholm which has left at least 3 dead and many more injured. We in the Diocese in Europe are deeply shocked at what seems to be a new pattern of violence emerging, after Nice, Berlin, London and now Stockholm which is alarming in its copycat nature. We pray this evening for the victims, their families and loved ones, and for all affected by this terrible attack and give thanks to God for those of the emergency services who respond so readily and efficiently. We pray also for the clergy who will be on hand to offer pastoral support and comfort at this time of shock and grief.

We pray that the perpetrator or perpetrators are brought to justice, and of course that calm and a sense of security is restored to your beautiful and peaceful city. And in this coming Holy Week, may we all turn to the One who reconciled all to Himself on the cross.

In Christ Jesus
+David

Bishop Eva

Last night, Bishop Eva replied with this message:
Dear Bishop David
Thank you for thoughts and prayers on the day we hoped that we would never experience. Stockholm is a very silent town tonight. In thoughts, reflections, fear. Many people pray and we have to continue our prayers for the families of the victims, the wounded and all the people who are scared.
We do not know if it is an action of a sick person or a terrorist attack. We hope that this will not shape the polarization that is already here.

Thank you again for thoughts and prayers. We keep together and know that goodness creates goodness.

In Christ
Bishop  Eva 

Fr Nick Howe
Fr Nick, who is also the Area Dean for the Nordic/Baltic Deanery,  has written to his people encouraging them to come together this weekend, "Now, as ever, I think we need to get together to say that hate may do its worst, but love wins; to tell the story and share the bread that give us this hope".

O God, who would fold both heaven and earth in a single peace:
let the design of thy great love
lighten upon the waste of our wraths and sorrows:
and give peace to thy Church,
peace among nations,
peace in our dwellings,
and peace in our hearts:
through thy Son our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.

Monday, 3 April 2017

St George's Madrid: a parish with an international and ecumenical outlook


Mothers' Union Members, Madrid
It is no surprise given the growing number of members from Africa, that the Mothers' Union is well represented in St. George's Madrid. My recent parish visit was on Mothering Sunday which was an appropriate occasion for the members of the MU to wear their distinctive uniforms.

St George's looks outward to the world Church in so many ways. For instance during my visit I attended a session of one of their Lenten Bible studies at which they were using material produced by the mission agency USPG, which draws upon the experiences of Christians around the world. The session I attended challenged us as Christians in our relations with those of other faiths, reflecting on the experience of St Peter in the Acts of the Apostles, supplemented by moving testimonies gathered by USPG from members of the Church of Pakistan. I was very pleased to see the faithful of one of our parishes working on the important issue of interfaith dialogue.

Discussions with the Church Council
The study group was led by Celia Paterson, who is the Reader in St. George's. At the 1130 Sunday Eucharist I had the pleasure of licensing Celia for a further three years. Also at the Mass, several persons received the sacrament of Confirmation.

Celia Paterson assisting me with the confirmands

Confirmation Candidates receive Holy Communion
The Chaplain, the Revd Paul Ormrod, keeps busy ecumenically in Madrid. He arranged for me to have a meeting with the Diocesan Ecumenical Officer, the Revd Manuel Barrios Prieto, who is also a scholar of the Mozarabic Rite. Padre Manuel was accompanied by a priest, Fr Raúl, who had only been ordained 5 days earlier, who was brought along to learn about Anglicanism. No better place for him to learn than at St George's, from Fr Paul Ormrod!

Fr Raúl, Fr Paul, Fr Manuel

Saturday, 1 April 2017

Residents of our See City, Gibraltar, are deeply troubled by EU Brexit guidelines

The Cathedral of the Most Holy Trinity, Gibraltar

 

A clause inserted in the EU draft guidelines for the Brexit process has taken the residents of Gibraltar, and apparently the UK government, by surprise: "No agreement between the EU and the United Kingdom may apply to the territory of Gibraltar without the agreement between the Kingdom of Spain and the United Kingdom." It appears that the EU is siding with Spain in its long dispute over the territory and Gibraltarians are rightly alarmed.


The Cathedral of this diocese is, of course, in Gibraltar.


The Dean, the Very Revd John Paddock, is concerned for his parishioners and their worry at this turn of events. This morning I wrote this message to the Dean, and his parishioners:


__________________________________________

 


Dear Fr John, dear Brothers and Sisters


Adding to all the political and economic uncertainty caused by the referendum, and now the triggering of the Brexit process last week, the people of Gibraltar must be feeling not only dismayed but even shocked by the naming of Gibraltar in the EU27 negotiating position, and by what is clearly a lack of foresight on the part of HM Government which has been caught off guard, with the life of the residents of The Rock appearing to be considered bargaining chips in the upcoming UK-EU27 negotiations. Now, after all the debates, assurances and speculation of the past months, it is Gibraltar which is named as the first possible direct victim of the Brexit decision. I can only imagine the turmoil and even anger you must feel.


At such times we Christians turn to God's Son Jesus Christ, who is the King of all creation, and whose sovereignty is over all. We pray ever more earnestly for our politicians and diplomats, that God will enlighten them with wisdom and patience in their dealings with Brussels and Madrid, and that they will guarantee and defend the future and the wellbeing of Gibraltarians in the upcoming negotiations.


We pray also for Spain, that God will grant its leaders a spirit of reconciliation and open hearts, that self interest and pride may give way to a search for our common good on the Iberian peninsula.


In these Lenten days, we recall that God is at work, even through the Passion of His Son, and we pray that His Peace may rule in our hearts.


Your brother in Christ


+David

 

Our Lady of Europe in Gibraltar

 

Thursday, 30 March 2017

St Catherine's Stuttgart - a welcoming place for refugees


In Stuttgart St Catherine's Parish Centre was originally conceived to be the administrative office for the congregation as well as a space for church meetings and gatherings such as choir practice. But the centre has taken on an enhanced role as the parish has responded to the influx of refugees in this city in Baden-Württemberg. It has become a place for refugees to come and find clothing, toys, and essential household goods that they require as they establish their new life in Germany. Of course they also receive care and advice from the volunteers from the parish who give their time to the centre.


One of the remarkable aspects to this work is that the parish has engaged two persons who are refugees themselves to work in the centre alongside our church volunteers. They are Salim, a young woman from Eritrea, and Shukri, a young man from Syria. Thus St Catherine's is encouraging refugees to help other refugees.

I had a brief interview with Salim and Shukri to give them a chance to tell their story and their hopes for the new life in Germany. The video can be found below, with the parish priest the Revd Canon Ken Dimmick translating from the German (and the choir rehearsing in the background!)


Seeing St Catherine's at work with refugees was just one aspect to a recent parish visit which also included baptisms and confirmations at the main Sunday morning mass, a joyous and wonderful celebration. Fr Ken and I were assisted by the auxiliary priests associated with the parish, the Revd Wolfgang Siebenpfeiffer, the Revd Julie Lipp-Nathaniel and the Revd Brigitte Gutbrod.




Monday, 27 March 2017

Christians, Muslims, diplomats and scholars consult on cooperation in the refugee crisis



As we know Europe is experiencing the worst refugee crisis since World War II. Religious organisations including the churches play many key roles in the midst of this crisis such as advocacy for responsible government policies on behalf of refugees and in helping to improve migrants' integration in receiving countries. In Europe several collaborative projects among religious bodies, governments and NGOs have been already put in place.

One of the most creative was established in Italy through the cooperation between the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Roman Catholic Comunità di Sant’Egidio, the Federation of Evangelical Churches and Tavola Valdese of the Waldensian Evangelical Church. The programme takes advantage of the provision of humanitarian visas to bring over a two-year period approximately 1000 refugees from Lebanon (Syrian refugees), Morocco (migrants from Sub-Saharan African countries fleeing from situations of risk caused by conflicts, terrorism, political instability, poverty, famine, drought) and Ethiopia. The shorthand term for the programme is "humanitarian corridors". It is a safe and legal alternative to provide safe entry for the most vulnerable refugees including single women with children, victims of human trafficking, elderly people and disabled or sick people, and facilitates their integration in Italy.

I was invited on 13th and 14th of March to participate in a policy dialogue promoted by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation to assess the benefits and challenges of innovative programmes such as the humanitarian corridors and to see how such programs might be extended and duplicated in other countries. The round-table was attended by over 30 religious representatives, diplomats, policymakers and scholars.

Several of the participants also were invited to record short video clips about the role of religious groups in addressing the refugee crisis. I append two of them below, one given by me, and the other by a distinguished interfaith colleague, Imam Yahya Sergio Yahe Pallavicini, Chairman of the Council for Muslims in non Islamic Countries and President of COREIS (Italian Islamic Religious Community).




Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Anglican-RC History made again!


Readers of this blog may find that this is getting rather repetitive, but Anglican-Roman Catholic history was made yet once again on Monday afternoon! For the first time ever the service of Anglican Evensong, according to the Book of Common Prayer, was celebrated in St Peter’s Basilica in Rome.



Archbishop David Moxon, the Director of the Anglican Centre in Rome, led the service using Cranmer's ancient words. Archbishop Arthur Roche, Secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, one of the most senior Englishmen in the Vatican, preached the sermon. The choir of Merton College Oxford sang the service.


The service was held in honour of St Gregory the Great on the nearest day to his old feast day, 12th March, which is still the date for the observance in the BCP. Pope St Gregory the Great sent St Augustine to England to evangelise the Anglo-Saxons. He has become an unofficial patron of the most recent ecumenical exchanges between the Anglican and Roman Catholic Churches. His crozier-head was sent to Canterbury as a gesture of support during the Primates' Meeting in January 2016 and Pope Francis gave Archbishop Justin Welby a wooden crozier modelled on it during their meeting in October.

At the conclusion of the service itself we processed to the tomb of St Gregory in the Basilica, where Cardinal George Pell and I led prayers to honour the saint.


The clergy and many members of our parish of All Saints were present, and the servers, who are surely among the finest in Christendom, were provided by us!

Saturday, 11 March 2017

Ecumenical history will be made in Florence


Ecumenical history is going to be made tomorrow in Florence when the Anglican service of choral Evensong will be sung in the great baptistery of San Giovanni, next to the Cathedral. The ecumenical significance of this event is noteworthy: this is the first time that an Anglican service will be held in the ancient Florentine baptistery and is by kind permission of the Archbishop of Florence, His Eminence Cardinal Giuseppe Betori, and the Dean and Chapter of the Cathedral. It will be led by the Chaplain of St Marks English Church, the Revd Fr William Lister. The Choir of St Mark’s will sing the service.

Fr Lister, besides being the priest of our Church of England parish in Florence is also responsible for St Peter's Sienna, and Holy Cross, Bologna, and is Area Dean of Italy. St Mark's is a busy international Church and is also an active venue for opera, concerts, and a wide range of artistic, literary and academic events for visitors and locals alike. The parish's role in strengthening relationships on the ground with the Roman Catholic Church adds in a significant way to our Anglican Communion's official dialogue.

Father William Lister